Walton stands out among San Diego athletes

Notes on Ross, strikeouts, Wallace, Norris

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

I have a short list of born-and-raised San Diego County sports figures who stand out from the rest because of their achievements at every level of their competitive fields: Ted Williams (baseball), Marcus Allen (football), Greg Louganis (diving), Maureen Connolly (tennis), Dennis Conner (sailing), Junior Seau (football) and Bill Walton (basketball).

But one stands out from the rest because of his passion for all things San Diego.

That would be Walton, who, it is my pleasure to say, I began covering since his sophomore season at Helix High School.

I crossed paths with Bill again Tuesday afternoon at a news conference at Petco Park.

It was called to announce the Bill Walton Basketball Festival at Petco Park -- a six-day event culminating Dec. 5 with the San Diego State-University of San Diego basketball game on the court paralleling the third-base foul line.

The Padres and Walton see this inaugural event as much more than a featured college basketball game. In the days leading up it, Walton and the Padres plan to stage a number of other events on the temporary court that will include all facets of the community.

There will be youth clinics. There could be high school games. There could be a concert, or two. There could be pickup games.

"Who knows," said the always ebullient Walton during the news conference. "We have an open book. I think we are free to do almost anything we can when it comes to basketball, the youth of the area and celebrating San Diego."

Two things you need to know about Walton -- his thoughts are not defined by a box or an envelope. And when he plunges into a project, well, he plunges.

And it's not about him. It never has been. It is about the broader concept of "team."

When I covered Walton in high school, he never dwelled on his scoring. Ask him today what his points per game average was in high school, and he Will say, "29 . . . something." What he prided himself on was his assists, blocked shows and rebounds -- in other words, things that mattered to the team.

I'm not sure what Walton has planned for the inaugural Bill Walton Basketball Festival at Petco Park. I'm not sure he does right now, either. Like he said, he has a blank piece of paper.

But I am sure it is going to involve a lot of things involving a lot of people from a lot of facets of San Diego. I am sure it will be successful.

From the scorecard

Tyson Ross equaled his career-high with 11 strikeouts in six innings Tuesday night against the Giants. The 11 strikeouts raised his season total to a career-high 205. For the first time in franchise history, the Padres have two pitchers with 200 or more strikeouts in James Shields (208) and Ross. Ross becomes the eighth 200-strikeout season in Padres history.

• Padres starters now have 832 strikeouts this season, which is a franchise record, topping the 828 strikeouts turned in by the 1998 rotation.

Brett Wallace's fifth homer of the season Tuesday night was his fourth as a pinch-hitter. The four pinch-hit homers is one shy of the franchise record of five by Jerry Turner in 1978. Matt Stairs also hit four pinch-hit homers in 2010. Wallace is hitting .366 (15-for-41) as a pinch-hitter since joining the Padres on June 19 with three doubles, four homers and 12 RBIs.

Derek Norris threw out his 37th would-be basestealer Tuesday night. That is the most by 11 in the National League this season and the most by an NL catcher since Paul Lo Duca had 43 in 2003.